Emergence and Strategic IntentSeptember 22, 2009 Leave a comment
Let’s start with an oversimplification of what a “traditional” client intervention might look like. Let’s understand the client to be an organization or a group of organizations wanting to do something together. Such an intervention is likely to focus on the group defining “who we are,” and very quickly following that up with “what to do.” The “what to do” is then followed by the articulation of a plan or strategy towards a mutually agreed upon goal. Ok – so let’s remember that we are oversimplifying the case!
How does this change when we start to do more work from an “emergence paradigm?” What happens when we start to work from a paradigm that defies the predictability of planning? The question of “who we are,” remains centrally important, the identity of the group holds it together and provides a frame for its shared intention. However, in an emergence paradigm the energy of attention is then focused on the articulation of a strategic intent. What is this group’s purpose and what is the most strategic path towards that purpose, but most important – what is this group’s intention and how will it manifest?
Answering the question of strategic intent demands that the group engage in the question of “how to be?” Which is always a deeper question than “what to do,” though this too has to be answered. How will we be together in order to manifest our strategic intent? How will we live in the world we are trying to build? What are ways to abide by the value that how we get there is as important as getting there?
The emergence paradigm demands that we work with complexity rather than try to compartmentalize it. There are tools for managing complexity as organizations or groups of organizations, and it is my intention to use this blog to continue exploring this approach and some of the tools that facilitate it. But for now, suffice it to say that our strategic intent becomes our organizing principle, and when done well, in a context of relationships and trust, it becomes the tool that allows us to invent new ways of being-with – and isn’t that what social change is all about?